BEIJING – More Western countries will follow Britain in improving ties with China, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted as saying on Tuesday, describing relations with London over the past year as a “bright spot” in China’s diplomacy.
The British government has moved forcefully to strengthen financial and diplomatic ties with Beijing, with Chinese President Xi Jinping paying a state visit to Britain in October to seal what both call a “golden time” in relations.
Earlier this year, Britain broke ranks with the United States, its close ally, by signing up as a founding member of China’s new infrastructure investment bank.
“Sino-British relations have been a bright spot this year,” Wang told Chinese media while on a trip to Cyprus, according to a statement released by China’s Foreign Ministry.
“Xi Jinping’s ‘super state visit’ to Britain was enormously successful, and Sino-British relations have entered a ‘golden time’,” Wang added.
Britain has said it wants to be China’s strongest supporter and best friend, he said.
“I believe that this important development in reality presages future prospects for China’s relations with Western countries.”
Rights groups have accused Britain of turning a blind eye to abuses in China since the two countries ushered in their “golden time” in relations.
British officials, however, say they can achieve more by raising issues such as human rights behind the scenes than by hectoring Beijing publicly.
Wang said that in addition to the better ties with Britain, there were other signs too that China was becoming more accepted by the international community, including the including by the International Monetary Fund of the yuan into its benchmark currency basket.
“China’s international position and influence have achieved an obvious change,” he said.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Miral Fahmy)